Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer
 
When the proposed school levy failed at the General Election, the Pocahontas County Board of Education began looking for alternatives to improve school facilities.

Superintendent Terrence Beam said the board plans to apply for a grant through the West Virginia School Building Authority to replace the sewage system at Pocahontas County High School.

“We are going to apply for a Major Improvement Project,” Beam said. “SBA takes applications for those once a year, just like they do the Needs projects.” 

Beam said director of maintenance Ron Hall is working with OWPR Architecture Group to draw up plans for the project to present to the SBA.

Unlike a Needs project, – which the board applied for last year and received but lost due to the levy failure – a MIP is for smaller projects at one school.

“First of all, a MIP project can only be used on one school,” Beam said. “You can’t say, ‘I want to do this at this school and this at this school.’ It can only be one school. Our number one priority as far as something that has to be fixed right away is our sewer system at the high school.”

While the SBA usually requires county boards to have a match for funding, Beam said the board does not have money to put up to match the grant.

“We’re not putting up any money ourselves and that may hurt us, but we don’t have any money to put up,” he said. “We’re going to do that and we’re actually going to consider pursuing a sewage pond rather than a sewage system. A sewage pond is much cheaper and we’re having some trouble with our water at the high school right now.”

The current sewage system at PCHS has water draining in different directions and it is difficult to find the source of that water. It is also older and is really showing its age.

“That system is over forty years old,” Beam said. “It’s designed to last about twenty. We’re going to try to get funding to replace that. The other thing we’re going to do is in the vocational building. We’re going to ask for funds to replace our outside doors and one garage door.”

The project is due March 3 and Beam said, if it is approved, the funding will be announced in June.

“My understanding is, if we get the money – depending on how quickly that money flows – we should be able to get that system up and going by the end of this calendar year,” Beam said. “We should be able to get it done sometime this fall and be on the new system.”

The preliminary plan is to place the sewage pond near where the current system is because all the lines are already leading to that area. The architecture firm is helping Hall determine the best location for the new system.

While MIP funding is for smaller projects, it is as competitive as the larger grants from SBA. Still, Beam is hopeful it will be approved.

“They’re still competitive, but not near as extravagant,” he said of MIPs. “The most you can ask for is one million dollars, and this is not going to be in that ballpark. We think we can get that done. It’s just one of those things that needs to be addressed immediately for the health and well-being of our students.”